William Armine (W. A.) Julian arrived in Tucson in 1899 at age 34 from San Diego with his wife Margaret. He promptly opened the W. A. Julian Company in a two-story building featuring a handsome facade of granite and pressed brick and several large show windows at 122 E. Congress. The business would eventually control 85 percent of Tucson’s plumbing, heating and roofing business. He also sold Charter Oak stoves, crockery, glassware and solar water heaters.
But Julian was not one to sit back and collect checks from his successful business. He wanted to do more.
Julian was elected chairman in 1928 of the Tucson Chamber of Commerce. In that role, he announced the organization’s goal of having a $5 million to $10 million annual payroll for the city of Tucson and a $15 million construction budget. To achieve the goals, Tucson would participate in the Pima Pinal Howdy Trade Tours.
Julian ran for Tucson mayor in 1929. During a Republican rally, he was heartily applauded when after announcing his candidacy, he proclaimed “Republicans keep faith.” In his campaign platform, Julian advocated for an eight-hour work day for all city employees and for establishing more playgrounds. He also favored establishing an adequate sewer system for the part of town east of Park and north of Speedway and providing more street lights.
Julian won the mayoral election, and assumed the position just as the Tucson City Council had established the position of city manager. The mayoral position was considered to be part time. However, he worked 10-hour days and received a
$100-a-month salary. He established an office at City Hall and observed regular office hours. The idea was foreign to Tucsonans, because until then, no mayor had ever observed regular office hours. He drove his own large Studebaker to inspect the filling of potholes and for checking on the Tucson water supply. He was so happy with new University of Arizona stadium that he established a one-time holiday on its dedication day. He also devised a parking system whereby the streets would have individual painted parallel parking spaces separated by three feet of clearance. Each space would accommodate one car and no more. Thus many a fender would be saved and “many a muttered oath would be unnecessary.” He served as mayor for one term until 1931.
As an organizer of the Tucson Gun Club, Julian was rated as one of the best trap shooters in the Southwest. He was active in the Elks Lodge and worked to get the Elks Hospital established in Tucson. He served on the Tucson Rodeo committee, the Masons and Old Fellows lodge. As mayor, Julian led a fundraiser to raise $1,000 to improve the plots in Evergreen Cemetery where veterans were buried. With the money, he hoped to put the graves under perpetual care.
At age 75, Julian was arrested and found guilty of reckless driving, which had resulted in a minor collision. He was given a six-month suspended jail sentence. Julian died approximately one year later on July 25, 1941.
— Jane Eppinga. Photo courtesy of the author.